The Necessity of an Islamic Enlightened Reformation

By Karl Lies for

Mr. Lies’ post is a response to the point-counterpoint, “Degrade and Destroy” by Professor Amos Guiora and  “Obama-Bashing Lets the Jihadists Suck Us In Again” by Professor Wayne McCormack.

I write this in response to the articles by Mr’s Guiora and McCormack (Obama Bashing). ISIS is simply the latest iteration of a deeper problem within Islam itself. Injecting ourselves into it will not fix the underlying problem, it will only further obscure it and we will become, once again, the scapegoat blamed for all the ill’s of the Islamic world. We should act only in direct defense of ourselves.

Most people are familiar with the quote of Lord Acton that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely”. This is a truth of great importance in a world which, today, faces a growing plague of Islamic extremism. Some argue that this extremism is a hijacking or false interpretation of Islam. Both of these claims are incorrect.

Islam can be interpreted in either a moderate or extreme fashion and both are valid. This may, at first, seem a contradiction but if one begins by accepting the idea that Islam governs and dictates all aspects of life, a moderate interpretation simply involves the selection of the more moderate statements to be found in its scriptural writings. If one, instead, selects and emphasizes the more extreme statements, then this becomes the truth. It is the initial acceptance of the idea that there are no limits or boundaries to its authority which makes any interpretation valid. The underlying assumption of the extent of authority is the same, they differ only in degree and the points which they choose to emphasize.

It took the Christian western world hundreds of years to come to terms with the full importance of this concept. Unfortunately the Islamic world has, as yet, failed to fully comprehend that any ideology which imagines it’s authority to come directly from God and to encompass all aspects of life itself, grasps at absolute power and, thus, embeds within itself a corrosive and corrupting influence which, by its very nature, will always tend to draw forth the hateful and intolerant, the thugs, bullies and absolutists of the world…we return to the words of Lord Acton.

Long and difficult experience eventually developed, within the Christian west, the general acceptance of the value, and in fact necessity, of the separation of church and state. It is this understanding that the Islamic world has thus far resisted and, the lack of which, now sets it upon itself as well as the rest of the world. Christianity ultimately found a scriptural basis (“render unto Caesar that which is Caesars”) which allows it to rationalize and accept a de-coupling of church and state. Whether such a scriptural basis can be found in Islam remains to be seen.

Thus we return to the title of this essay, “The Necessity of an Islamic Enlightened Reformation”. The term “Reformation” is, in this case, convenient, but is not meant to allude to Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five theses which dealt with the practice of indulgences and dispensations. Reformation, here, is meant to describe a reform of Islamic ideology, delineating and restricting its authority such that, like Christianity, it operates as a moral and spiritual influence within an individual but makes no claim over the secular world.

Mr. Karl Lies is a veteran of the US Army, and a Technical Support Specialist. He resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.